NYC group set to perform classic piece

The New York City troupe Kairos Italy Theater will perform Machiavelli’s satirical 16th-century play “La Mandragola” (“The Mandrake”) in the Aula this Thursday, Nov. 3
The New York City troupe Kairos Italy Theater will perform Machiavelli’s satirical 16th-century play “La Mandragola” (“The Mandrake”) in the Aula this Thursday, Nov. 3
The New York City troupe Kairos Italy Theater will perform Machiavelli’s satirical 16th-century play “La Mandragola” (“The Mandrake”) in the Aula this Thursday, Nov. 3. Courtesy of Paolo Quadrini via Kairos Italy Theater

Hailing from New York, Kairos Italy Theater will be performing Niccolò Machiavelli’s satirical play, “La Mandragola” (“The Mandrake”), in the Aula in Ely Hall on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. This event will be free and open to the public.

Founded in 2000, Kairos Italy Theater (KIT) works to bridge the physical and cultural gap between Italy and the United States. The performance group has produced over 20 plays and events over the course of its existence, from popular works to never-before-translated plays.

KIT has innovated the “Double Theatre Experience,” the performance of a single-act play in English and Italian, each version done by a unique cast. The group has also created an Italian theatre festival called “In Scena,” which spans all five of the New York City boroughs. KIT has been brought to perform at Vassar through the Creative Arts Across Disciplines (CAAD) initiative and Italian Department, as well as through co-sponsorship by the Drama, English, French and Francophone Studies and Philosophy Departments.

Nearing its 500th anniversary of being published, “The Mandrake” is constrained to a single day’s timeline, featuring everything from fertility drugs to a wily priest. The play will be presented in its English translation for KIT’s performance at Vassar. KIT’s youth troupe first performed “The Mandrake” in 2013, and its current iteration will be presented by members of the company for Thursday’s performance.

Involved with bringing KIT to campus, Associate Professor of Italian Eugenio L. Giusti acknowledged that the performance troupe worked well in conversation with his class: “I did this for CAAD…because the course that I’m teaching right now, Roots and Branches, investigates the way that culture is transmitted from one to another,” he remarked. “Because we’re in a language and culture department, that’s why we really welcomed this company to come and perform with us.”

To continue the conversation between cultures, Artistic Director of KIT Laura Caparrotti will be visiting classrooms during the performance group’s stay on campus. Among the professors to welcome her to their classrooms is Associate Professor of English Zoltán Márkus, whose freshman writing seminar will be visited by Caparrotti.

“Situating the selected works in their contemporary cultural and historical contexts, my class explores significant differences as well as possible continuities between past and present interpretations of basic concepts and institutions as gender, family, marriage, filial and marital duties, the private sphere and sexuality…” Márkus explained. “We look forward to…learning more from her about the Commedia dell’arte tradition and the play they are performing this time at Vassar.”

Interdisciplinary Arts Coordinator for CAAD Tom Pacio shared his excitement for KIT’s presence both on the stage and in the classroom. “[I] t is exciting to see how many different faculty members are interested in bringing this residency into their classes,” He remarked. “As with all the programming CAAD creates, it is always interesting and inspiring…to see the reach different artists have coming to campus. I studied this form of theatre briefly in graduate school, so I am personally really looking forward [to] this event.”

Following the performance, Mauro Sessarego, an associate professor from the nearby Culinary Institute of America, will hold a gelato tasting session during the reception. “It’s part of what the Italian Department and what the cultural department is trying to present, to share and learn about a different culture,” Giusti commented. “Using even a food tool, like gelato, it would just present good things to others if they’d like to enjoy and share it. I’m happy to say it’s an integral part of my culture, the idea of sharing and having a good time together.”

KIT’s performance of “The Mandrake” will give Vassar a richer taste of what it means to be Italian—from gelato to satirical drama, and everything in between.

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